Category Archives: STATEMENTS

STATEMENT re: MARGARET KEANE GRAVESTONE CASE

 Irish PEN/PEN na hÉireann supports the desire of Margaret Keane’s family to remember their late mother in the Irish language on her gravestone. The decision of the Church of England’s Ecclesiastical Court in Coventry to refuse the family permission to have engraved thereon the words ‘in ár gcroíthe go deo’ (‘in our hearts for ever’) is unfortunately informed by the lazy and offensive assumption that the Irish language is and forever will be associated only with violence and sedition. This mindset is not just anti-Irish; it is a slur on the people of Coventry as it is on the centuries-old Irish language. The Irish poet and politician Thomas Davis noted that ‘the language, which grows up with a people, is mingled inseparably with their history and is fitted beyond any other language to express their prevalent thoughts in the most natural and efficient way.’ It seems heartless and bizarre to deny the family of Margaret Keane – a woman who was born in Ireland in County Meath, who was active in GAA circles her whole life, and who was invited to attend Croke Park for the visit of Queen Elizabeth –  their wish to commemorate their mother in her native tongue and thereby honouring her Irish heritage. We welcome the family’s move to appeal against this ill thought-out decision and we wish them success in their forthcoming court challenge.